With over $6.4 billion in revenue and more than 2,500 movies per year, Nigeria’s film industry is taking the world by storm. Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry (a play on Bollywood, the Indian film industry, which is a play on Hollywood, the American film industry) is currently one of the world’s top film industries, producing more movies each year than even Hollywood.
Dr. Young-Tobi Ekechi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Generation Mortgage Bank (FGMB), has claimed that Nollywood is worth more than $6.4 billion, making it one of the fastest-growing industries in the country and more lucrative than the Online Casino Games industry, which earned more than $600 million in 2019.
Despite having the world’s 27th-ranked GDP, Nigeria is enjoying rising success in the film industry. Explore the rise of Nollywood to the position of the world’s most rapidly expanding film industry in the article below.
Nollywood And Where It Stands
At over 2,500 films each year, Nollywood is only surpassed in size by Bollywood as the biggest global film industry. Although Nollywood mostly refers to movies shot in Nigeria, it also includes films spoken in English, shot in Ghana or in the United States and elsewhere.
Nollywood has matured and diversified throughout the years, producing comedies, horrors, historical pieces, and even noir in addition to the movies that were originally associated with the low-budget amateur video aesthetic.
Where Did Nollywood Get Its Start?
A group of Nigerians, including Ola Balogun, Hubert Ogunde, and Eddie Ugboma, started making movies soon after Nigeria gained its independence in 1960. These directors are today recognized as the founding fathers of Nollywood. Afterward, cinematography became wildly popular in Nigeria, fueled in part by the proliferation of cinemas around the country and, more specifically, in Lagos, the country’s commercial hub, where both foreign and local films were presented.
Nollywood films suffered throughout the 1980s due in part to the scarcity of necessary filmmaking gear. As a result, the industry became stale and directors were forced to change the scope of their movies to deal with cultural and societal themes, shifting focus on the quality of the plot rather than the quality of the filmmaking. Despite financial constraints, independent filmmakers were capturing their films using retail cameras and marketing them to an at-home audience.
Despite Nollywood’s modest budgets, the movies’ fresh takes on themes prevalent in Afrocentric culture set them apart from Hollywood’s standard fare. Beginning in the mid-1990s, filmmakers were able to earn a living off of their work, leading to a rise in the number of well-known films like Chris Obi Rapu’s Living in Bondage from 1992.
Despite the movie’s straight-to-VHS debut, it achieved great commercial and critical success. The fact that a 2019 sequel, Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, generated $168.7 million Naira ($406,257 USD) on a budget of just $10 million Naira ($24,081 USD), speaks much about the appeal of even the most low-budget Nollywood films.
Nollywood, the now-worldwide movie superpower, was born out of the popularity of these early video films, which completely revolutionized Nigerian filmmaking. About fifteen million Nigerians and another 5 million people throughout Africa regularly watch movies produced in Nollywood.
Nigerian cinematography saw substantial improvements in the 21st century as a result of government support and modern cinemas being built throughout the African continent. The new generation of Nigerian films had sophisticated plots, intricate characters, and skilled performances, all of which allowed them to be screened in contemporary cinemas. Several exceptional movies from 2016 broke box office records and received recognition at film festivals such as Cannes and Venice. One of which was the critically acclaimed The Wedding Party, directed by Kemi Adetiba.
A Motion Picture Industry That Ranks Second in Size
Professionals and amateurs have equally been shocked by Nollywood’s meteoric ascent over the last two decades. The industry has attracted millions of moviegoers throughout Africa and beyond. The movies that come out of Nollywood are remarkable, spanning the eras of colonialism and the current day with all its conflicts, ideologies, and lifestyles. The New Nigerian Cinema is now the world’s second-largest film sector, with an estimated worth of $6.4 billion.
Nollywood’s prospects seem promising because of its capacity to create excellent works of cinema across several genres. With the help of streaming sites like Netflix, budding filmmakers now have a chance to develop professionally produced films with talented performers, increasing the likelihood that Nollywood will rise to the top.
Nollywood will surely benefit from the huge success of Nigerian actors like Yvonne Orji, David Oyelowo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Boyega, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Uzo Aduba in Hollywood. Oyelowo and Will Smith are also making a film based on Nigerian author Tola Okagwu’s book “Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun” and the success of the adaptation of Nigerian writer Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation bodes well for the future of Nigerian cinema.
The sky seems to be the limit for the Nigerian film industry right now, and with rising social and cultural awareness in the world, and streaming services’ willingness to include international movies in their catalogs, there’s a big chance we will begin seeing Nollywood movies praised alongside Hollywood productions, or even surpassing them.